Arizona Game and Fish Commission votes to oppose House Bill 2235

Arizona Game and Fish Commission votes to oppose House Bill 2235
Introduced legislation would alter commission qualifications, appointment process.

Arizona Game and Fish Department
Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arizona – -( The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Friday unanimously voted to oppose Arizona House Bill 2235, proposed legislation that would amend an existing law concerning the qualifications and appointment process for Game and Fish commission membership.

If the Arizona Legislature were to pass HB 2235 as written, all future commission members would be required to have a continuous recorded registration with the same political party or as an independent for at least 5 years immediately preceding the appointment, must have also held a valid hunting or combination hunting and fishing license for at least 5 years immediately preceding the appointment, and must have been an Arizona resident for at least 10 years. The legislation would also require that all applications for appointment to the Commission be public records and that those records be available for public inspection not later than the second week in December.

The bill amends Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 17, Section 201.

“Although our vote was unanimous, our decision took some soul searching,” said Game and Fish Commissioner Robert Woodhouse. “Each commissioner understands the critical role sportsmen play in funding wildlife conservation. We also believe that Arizona’s wildlife belongs to all its citizens, each of whom has a responsibility to help fund conservation. However, as written, this piece of proposed legislation would eliminate more than 90 percent of Arizona citizens from eligibility to serve as a commissioner. This standard would be more restrictive than currently exists for any other public office in Arizona – including that of governor.”

The commission’s concern with the bill includes:

As written, the bill would prevent an individual from being an eligible applicant who had been a long time-purchaser of a hunting license but, for any reason, missed purchasing a license during the five years prior to becoming a candidate. This would prevent anyone serving as a commissioner who was unable to purchase a license due to economic or health reasons, family circumstances, or being out of state for a period of time such as a member of the U.S. military who might be deployed overseas.

The draft legislation would prevent the governor from making an appointment except from candidates that submitted applications prior to the second week in December. If the governor didn’t call for applications until after the second week in December, or if a current commissioner was unable to continue serving their term and resigned, the governor would be unable to appoint a new commissioner until the following December.

No specific skills, knowledge or qualifications are required of an individual who has purchased a hunting or combination hunting and fishing license that aren’t already required by the existing statute. The current law states that commission members be “well informed on the subjects of wildlife and requirements for its conservation”.

Click here to read the introduced version of House Bill 2235.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, or disability in its programs and activities. If anyone believes that they have been discriminated against in any of the AGFD’s programs or activities, including employment practices, they may file a complaint with the Deputy Director, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000, (602) 942-3000, or with the Fish and Wildlife Service, 4040 N. Fairfax Dr. Ste. 130, Arlington, VA 22203. Persons with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation or this document in an alternative format by contacting the Deputy Director as listed above.